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'Cherish the memory of our heroic dead'

Matt DeYoung • May 28, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium was ablaze with red, white and blue Monday morning as hundreds of people gathered for Memorial Day services. 

“I do not know why God has given me this honor of speaking here today but I will do my best what Memorial Day means to me,” said orator Mike Metzger. “I come from a family that has been blessed to serve in the military. My father, Victor Metzler served in World War II. My father-in-law, Floyd Doty, served in Korea. My brother Terry was in the military police, brother Tom served in special forces its a Green Beret in Vietnam, and I served in Vietnam.

“We were the lucky ones. We came home to our family and friends. Today we honor those who never made it home.”

World War II veteran George Bennett and his wife, Lois, served as grand marshals of the Memorial Day parade, which made its way down Washington Avenue prior to the Memorial Services. 

Bennett, resplendent in his uniform, made his way slowly to the podium after being introduced by adjutant Chris Streng. 

“We have gathered to cherish the memory of our heroic dead,” George Bennett said. 

Streng later read the roll call in memory of veterans who passed away in 2018-19. His voice broke when he reached the name of his father, Thomas Streng, who passed away July 22, 2018. 

Grand Haven High School junior Anna Bremmer sang “America the Beautiful,” and the Buccaneer marching band played the national anthem. Taps was performed by Carson Bretz and Hannah Smith. 

Boy Scout Troop No. 165 raised the flags at Waterfront Stadium and across the river atop Dewey Hill. 

A tribute was held to the Unknown or Unreturned Service Dead, and Gold Star families — those that lost a loved one in military service — tossed flowers into the Grand River. 

Duane Smith, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and chaplain of the Charles A. Conklin American Legion post in Grand Haven, said he thought it was fitting to have the somber memorial service on the heels of the festive parade. 

“It’s happy and sad, and we need them both today,” he said. “We nee to celebrate their life, but we also need to hold them in honor and a little bit of awe for what they did for us.”

He said the veterans in attendance were moved by the outpouring of support shown at Monday’s events. 

“It’s really appreciated that the community turns out like this,” he said. 

Also Monday, a Veteran’s Memorial was held at the eternal flame at the corner of Harbor Avenue and Y Drive. Following that event, a ceremony took place at Lake Forest Cemetery. 

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